Senior defense official: Israel’s enemies see country ‘as weak’ amid overhaul rifts

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli soldiers on the border between Lebanon and Israel, March 15, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers on the border between Lebanon and Israel, March 15, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

A senior defense official says Israel’s enemies view the Jewish state as weak amid the controversy over the government’s judicial overhaul.

“Our enemies see Israel as weak and limited in its retaliation, especially in light of the weakening of international support,” the official tell reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The internal situation has become a central element, all the players point to the fact that Israel is in a serious crisis, and in their view, could lead to the collapse of Israel. They recognize an opportunity. There is damage to [our] deterrence and there are attacks being planned, based on their assumption that Israel is paralyzed,” he says.

The official says his view is shared by IDF chief Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, and Mossad chief David Barnea.

The official says the IDF is “at full competency,” despite hundreds of reservists officers threatening to boycott volunteer duty over the overhaul.

“But continuing the legislative process without an agreement will result in competence being damaged,” he says.

“It also affects the standing army. We can already see a crack,” he says, adding that the IDF is also preparing for conscript soldiers refusing to become officers.

“There is already damage and this is the reason why it is necessary to stop,” he says. “There is damage because a unit needs cohesion and this goes against the spirit of the IDF. Anyone who thinks that the debate about the legislation can be left outside [the military] is stuck 40 years in the past. We need to curb the legislation and take this information into account.”

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